With Najee Harris being squarely on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ radar pre-draft, you might think Kevin Colbert or Mike Tomlin rang Nick Saban’s phone to glean some extra insight on the type of players and person Harris is. Especially in such a difficult season because of COVID. But Kevin Colbert said the team didn’t have any conversation with Saban, and noted they rarely talk to head coaches during the pre-draft process.
Colbert joined Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio to discuss their process.
“No, we didn’t,” Colbert said when asked if they spoke with Saban about Harris. “We have several contacts there. Usually we won’t get into contacting a head coach unless there’s really one specific question. Those guys have to deal with several players and hundreds of different types of calls. That’s one part of their job. I’m sure they would help if need be. But we’re very sensitive to the head coaches’ availability and time.”
Though likely not an issue with a revered coach like Saban, whose reactions to selections can be pretty honest, there’s another issue, too: Trust and truth. Some head coaches understandably talk their players up to see them get drafted earlier. Coaches have their own biases that can cloud judgment and lead teams in the wrong direction. The Steelers talk to people in that program, but it sounds like more discussions with strength coaches and possibly trainers than head coaches.
Colbert did say they sometimes will phone a head coach. But in most cases, they don’t.
“Occasionally we will reach out but most often we do not.”
The most interaction they seem to get with head coaches in the pre-draft process is at Pro Days. Mike Tomlin is often spotted alongside guys like Urban Meyer (when he coached at Ohio State) or Dabo Sweeney. But the Steelers’ focus in this process is their own evaluation and own study of players as opposed to getting the opinions of others. Overall, it’s a successful for Colbert during his tenure as GM.
That information doesn’t mean a ton for the here and now. But it is an interesting nugget to file away for the team’s pre-draft process going forward.